An Auburn alumna said she is using her talents to bring “a spark of hope and color to these troubling times.”
Margee Ragland is an Auburn alumna with a visual design degree and a master’s in painting. She decided to move back to Auburn during retirement after years of teaching at Georgia State University.
Ragland is the face behind The Pandemic Art Project, which she was inspired to create during the shelter-in-place order in March.
Her first project was creating and hiding paper-mache houses with figures inside in places around Auburn.
Ragland said she attached cards to the artwork which included her email in hopes to receive responses from people that found her work. She hoped that searching for these pieces of artwork would be a fun activity for people and take their minds off of world events.
Due to the paper-mache material the houses didn’t hold up with the weather. She decided to create something new that would hold up better outside.
As a continuation of The Pandemic Art Project, Ragland painted plastic dog figurines to replace the houses. She said they are more prominent than the houses, and she thought people would like to see dogs.
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The dogs are painted a variety of colors including red, blue and green to create a whimsical effect.
Ragland said they were inspired by the dog Sirius from Greek Mythology and the novel “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller.
Ragland explained that Sirius is the brightest star in the heavens, located in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius was said to be the dog of Orion and Icarus who changed into a star. Sirius, the dog star, is supposed to represent hope; this made it the perfect symbol for the project with the uncertainty the pandemic brought, she said.
“The shelter-in-place order allowed me tons of time to make stuff, and I walked miles a day around the deserted campus,” Ragland said.
Ragland has received many emails praising her artwork and providing commentary about how the artwork was interpreted by multiple viewers.
“People’s responses have been equally important to the project,” she said.
The responses she has received have been her favorite part of the project. Receiving this feedback opened her eyes to different ideas about her artwork that she hadn’t thought of before. She is happy to create inspiration and new ideas for her viewers, she said.
Ragland has received poems, stories and compliments pertaining to her artwork.
One of the stories sent to the email account was from a man and his 96-year-old mother who encountered the dog star describing it as spiritually nourishing and healing.
Ragland has another idea in the works for the project. She said she hopes to create a “reindeer rebellion” for Christmas by decorating deer decoys to look like Santa’s reindeer deserted him and came to Auburn instead.
Ragland said her goal for The Pandemic Art Project was to get people looking at something unusual and to make “something magical for these uncertain times.”
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